TRANSCRIPT Oh No, Ross and Carrie! Ep. 225: Ross and Carrie Hug Amma (Part 1): Miraculous Edition

Podcast: Oh No, Ross and Carrie!

Episode number: 225

Transcript

music

“Oh No, Ross and Carrie! Theme Song” by Brian Keith Dalton. A jaunty, upbeat instrumental.

ross blocher

Hello, and welcome to Oh No, Ross and Carrie!, the show where we don’t just report on fringe science, spirituality, and claims of the paranormal, but take part ourselves.

carrie poppy

Yup, when they make the claims we show up so you don’t have to. I’m Carrie Poppy.

ross

And I’m Ross Blocher. Today we are very happy or report on Amma. [Carrie agrees emphatically.] Amma, the hugging saint.

carrie

Oh, my gosh. We’ve been trying to meet Amma for years.

ross

Years. She travels all over the world.

carrie

Hugging.

ross

She is from India, and she’s been on our radar for a long time. And about yearly, she’ll come around North America. She’ll come to Los Angeles. I remember one year we were really close to going. She was in Long Beach. There’s always just something that comes up that keeps us from getting to where she is.

carrie

Yeah, it started to feel like the cosmos were betting against us.

ross

They did not want us to see Amma.

carrie

They did not want this happening. We beat the universe!

ross

That’s right. And someone, or usually a few people would email us, “Hey, you should definitely check out Amma the hugging saint.” Yeah, yeah. We know.

carrie

We know. [Both chuckle.]

ross

So yeah, this time we were already—’cause she’ll come for multiple days. She’ll do a retreat and then she’ll have multiple sessions with hugging. And the way they describe it, like you have to show up and get tokens and wait for hours.

carrie

You have to wait, and then your token gets called, and don’t lose the token, it’s like cash.

ross

And then there’s a ceremony and you get hugged. It’s just always funny after the fact, to kind of look back at my mental images and realize how wrong it was. Especially—

carrie

Totally. And boy is that the case here.

ross

Yeah. Especially since the first one I think we were really planning on going to was in Long Beach. I pictured us down like, by a boat dock. [Both start laughing.] And like, you know, a bunch of people standing out by cargo containers, and we’re getting these tokens.

carrie

It’s like in The Love Boat when everyone takes off and there are people just like, waving their handkerchiefs at them and throwing rice.

ross

This is where I confess I’ve never seen The Love Boat.

carrie

Right, yeah. That’s a reference no one will get. [Ross laughs.] But it is like that.

ross

But in my mind, I was thinking, “Oh, she’s founded a path somewhat akin to Braco.”

carrie

Yes! That’s what I thought, too.

ross

The Gazer. Our Croatian Gazer, if you haven’t heard those episodes.

carrie

Yeah, that would have been like, early 2017 I think. Yeah, I thought so, too. I thought, okay, she’s figured out her gimmick. She’s the one who hugs, and the hugs heal you or affect you in some notable way, and it’s just like Braco. Just has this one sweet gig.

ross

[Carrie laughs and agrees multiple times while Ross speaks.] Yeah, totally sweet gig. And what a smart thing to do, where you just hug people and then they get to come up with whatever significance or purported miracle claims, and good on them. You know, nobody really loses out. You don’t have to lie to anybody about anything. You just get a hug, and who doesn’t like a hug? A consensual hug.

carrie

Exactly. It makes me want to hang up a shingle and just be like, [whispering] “Hey, for five dollars you can see this crazy thing.” And then, you know, just show them like, I don’t know, a picture of my foot. And then be like, “What do you think?” [Ross laughs.] “Everyone has different reactions. What do you think?” And I bet—

ross

And just hope it catches on.

carrie

Yeah! I bet a good quarter of the people would be like, “That is amazing. I totally get it.”

ross

And then at some point it hits critical mass, and now you are the...

carrie

The Foot Saint. [Laughs.]

ross

The Foot Saint. Hey, it’s a niche no one’s grabbed yet.

carrie

Yeah, exactly. And, you know, there’s the whole WikiFeet thing. I haven’t—guys, I haven’t been debuted on WikiFeet, and— [Carrie stammers and sighs. Ross laughs.] You know, I’ve been on the internet for many years now.

ross

I’m sorry, okay, no. Here I am getting a mental image again. I’m guessing this is a website run like Wikipedia where they collect pictures of—

carrie

Of women’s feet.

ross

—women’s in particular.

carrie

Maybe there are men, too.

ross

Women’s feet. Okay.

carrie

Mostly women’s feet. It’s a foot fetish website. [Ross starts laughing.] And people always say, “Oh, the second you put your feet on the internet. If you have, you know, any public profile at all, people will grab your feet and they’ll put them on WikiFeet.” Well, guess the fuck what, it’s not true, because—

ross

You’ve put your feet out there.

carrie

—I have tried! [Ross laughs again.] No one’s putting me on WikiFeet!

ross

Alright, you foot fetishists. Get on it. Get Carrie up on—

carrie

Please!

ross

—WikiFeet.

carrie

Ugh. I did a whole video for Jay Frosting. He used to do a thing where he would review us weekly. So I did it one time, and— [Ross laughs and affirms.] —and I was sitting in such a way that you could see my feet the whole time.

ross

Oh, thinking—

carrie

And still!

ross

“Now’s my chance on getting on WikiFeet.”

carrie

“This is my big moment!”

ross

Now that I think of it, I’m sure I have accidentally stumbled on that before, when, you know, I’ve looked up the image results for some actress and then seen like, one photo that is a crop in of her feet, and go, “I’m on the internet!”

carrie

[Laughing] And I’m not! Anyway, so Amma. Her deal is— [Carrie stammers as both of them start laughing.] —she travels the world—

ross

Boy, you really zagged there.

carrie

Thank you. Also, I don’t believe in evolution, but anyway! [Ross laughs again.] She traveled the world—she travels the world, present tense—and hugs people. And people with great minds, critical thinkers, people whose opinions I respect, will say, “My experience with Amma was mind-blowing.” [Ross responds “oh, wow!” emphatically.] There was an NPR reporter who was like, “I’m not sure what physiologically is happening, but I just had this very profound spiritual experience.”

ross

Oh, I think I found a quote from that where she was talking about being kind of almost dazed and confused afterwards, but in a really pleasant way.

carrie

And I get so excited about those things, because I’m like, okay, okay! Because if I don’t need—

ross

This could be something.

carrie

—to believe and it can just like, sort of override me and make me feel it, I would frickin’ love that!

ross

I’m down for that, yeah. And speaking of feet, I was kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop as well when I was thinking about Braco. [Carrie chuckles.] When we looked into him, we found, oh he does have teachings, and ooh.

carrie

Ooh, some of them not so good.

ross

Oh, interesting. Okay. It’s not just the gazing.

carrie

[Ross responds affirmatively several times.] Right, and may or may not have been around for a mysterious death. Yeah. Anyway, go listen to that.

ross

[Carrie responds affirmatively several times.] So, beyond that I really knew nothing about her when we went to see her. So this time she had been, I think, in Hollywood from Thursday through Monday. And our timing wasn’t working out. We had missed the first half of this and we thought, “Ugh, we’re gonna miss Amma again.” But we looked at Monday and thank goodness, the retreat had happened like the past couple days. So there’s a retreat that you can go to, and it’s a multi-day program.

carrie

Yeah, that’s the real Amma deep dive.

ross

And that would have required more of a time commitment than we could give it. But, she was gonna be doing another one of the devi bhavas, or darshans. So that was the one where you show up for the tokens. So we thought, oh cool, we can do it on Monday, let’s go there. So it was gonna be the whole thing. The whole event from November 21st through 25th, was at Loews Hollywood Hotel. I wish I had paid more attention to that, ‘cause I just typed Lowe’s and I saw a Google Maps result.

carrie

And you ended up at a hardware store.

ross

Right. So, same letters but L-O-E-W-S. And that took me over toward a Metro station in Hollywood.

carrie

Uh oh.

ross

And so I’m looking around trying to find this building, and I ask the security guard and he says, “What’s the address?” And so I pull this up and I say, “1755 North Highland.” He says, “Oh, that’s way over there.” [Carrie mutters “oh no” and “oh shit” in the background while Ross speaks.] And I realize I’m .8 miles away. But I just paid ten dollars for parking, so I just start jogging on Hollywood Boulevard.

carrie

Oh, wow! I thought you went and got your car.

ross

Boy, Hollywood Boulevard, not—

carrie

Hollywood, home of the stars, and the glitz and the glamor.

ross

Yeah, it’s not always the most glamorous, glitzy place, Hollywood Boulevard.

carrie

Hollywood is wild. For those of you who don’t live in Hollywood, the six of you who listen to this and don’t live in Hollywood. Yeah, it’s such a weird mish mash of extremely wealthy people and extreme poverty, and so you can go from one street to the next and have a very different experience. It turns out if you don’t have good health services, including mental health services in a particular country, all the warm climates are probably going to fill with people who need a lot of help.

ross

Thanks, Reagan.

carrie

Yeah. Thanks the fuck Reagan.

ross

So I did finally get there. At least, my goal was to get there by 4:45, but instead I got there at 5 o’clock.

carrie

Okay, and I got there a little bit after you. For some reason I thought I knew exactly how long it was gonna take to walk. Boy, was I wrong. Or maybe I took a weird route. Anyway, I ended up taking a Lyft.

ross

[Carrie responds affirmatively multiple times to each subject Ross lists.] So yeah, the lesson here is that we’ve lived in LA for a long time. We still have a hard time navigating all this. And so we ended up at the Hollywood & Highland complex, which you may remember from a seancé episode that we had, and from us trying to perform Reiki on people on Hollywood Boulevard. It’s also where we got picked up for the Tony Alamo Ministries.

carrie

Oh, yeah. It’s also where I worked at the James Randi Educational Foundation.

ross

Oh, yeah. Very close to that.

carrie

Yeah, the darkest time in my life.

ross

And also where I got kicked out of the L. Ron Hubbard birthday celebration, right on the top floor outside of the Dolby theater. And turns out we’ll be heading back to that same exact giant room where that took place!

carrie

Man. Hopefully you don’t get kicked out again.

ross

Will I?

carrie

Will he? [Ross makes ‘bum bum bum’ sound.] Stay tuned for this sentence that’s coming up next: no, he doesn’t.

ross

Spoiler alert! So, as soon as you show up at the hotel, they have someone there in a red scarf, who’s—

carrie

Which is pretty smart.

ross

—bright and chipper and happy to see you.

carrie

You know how when you walk around Target, and you’re like, “Oh, there’s a person in a red shirt and khaki pants, they probably work here.” Even though there’s no like, particular, they don’t issue—

ross

Our friend Jared has talked about accidentally wearing like a blue shirt at Best Buy and people start asking him questions, and he knows more than the people who work there. [Carrie laughs and responds emphatically.]

carrie

He’s just wandering around Best Buy for kicks.

ross

I’ve done that at Fry’s before, where I just turn into tech support for people. Oh, you want this kind of hard drive. No, no, that’s—that’s IDE, that’s not supported anymore. You know, like something stupid like that, and I’ll realize like three people later, I should just get back to shopping.

carrie

I started doing a mini tour at the observatory once accidentally because a family asked me what the Foucault pendulum does, and I was like, “Well! Actually I know.” And so I started telling them, but then this little cluster of people started forming, and I was like, “I don’t know anything else, so you probably shouldn’t follow me around.”

ross

“Bottom line, though, the Earth is not flat!” Carrie runs off. [Carrie laughs.] Yeah, so these people are genuinely helpful and said, “Okay, well you’re gonna want to get on that elevator, then go to the M level. Then you’re gonna walk across, you’re gonna look for more people like me in these red scarves and then you’re gonna get on another elevator. Or you can take a series of escalators or stairs and get up to the fifth floor—”

carrie

It’s complicated.

ross

It was getting complicated very quickly.

carrie

And interestingly, you could just walk into the building and take an elevator to the fifth floor, which is where this thing was being held. But everyone was like, “You don’t wanna do that. Way too confusing. So, take M to 2, then go across, then go up—”

ross

That would have worked, huh? I believed the story.

carrie

Yeah, no, you can just go up to 5 and go across.

ross

Oh, pfft. Okay.

carrie

Yeah. But they felt it was confusing for some reason.

ross

They probably wanted you to walk by the little food court thing.

carrie

Where you can buy stuff. That makes sense. And guess where I found Ross.

ross

Buying Indian food, of course. And you know you’re in the right place, because there’s a big sign that says “Amma Program, Dolby Ballroom, Level 5”. Got a lovely, smiling picture of Amma. This is where I wish we could show you a picture. We can’t, this is a podcast.

carrie

It’s a visual medium. Wait, no. This is an audio medium. [Ross and Carrie say “mm-hm” back and forth several times in increasing enthusiasm.]

ross

So I headed toward the mezzanine, where they had the dining hall and the snack shop, and immediately saw there was somebody making masala dosa.

carrie

Yum.

ross

I said, “Uh, yes please.”

carrie

And a dosa, for those who dosa-not know, is uh, it’s like a savory crêpe, that’s filled with an Indian curry of some kind.

ross

So they take the dough and they have these circular hot plates, like if the Earth was flat and a circle it would look like that. So then they spread out the dough very thinly. So, you get to see them heat it up, and then they put in a mixture of potatoes and other things and it’s all vegetarian which is awesome. Then they roll it up, and it is yummy. We shared one of those.

carrie

Yeah, thank you for that. You gave me half of yours.

ross

You joined me as that was being made and I was a little nervous, though, because also I know they’re already handing out tokens. And so I kept checking with people in the red scarves. “Hey, you think we’ll be okay? Like, when do I definitely need to be there to get the token?”

carrie

And I really had no sense of whether this would be a thing where thousands of people are there, or a thing where 45 people are there. You really can’t tell.

ross

Right, yeah. No way of gauging. But at this point we thought, okay, well at least we’ve got some food in us, which was a smart move. They were all telling us there will be meals later, and it was very—I’m still unsure. I think you found it later, but it was still very unsure in my mind where all of this food was located, is it gonna be free?

carrie

Is it cash only because all your ATMs are out of money?

ross

Right. So then we found out that there’s also people wearing green sashes, and they do different things. Then the people in the red, I don’t know—

carrie

Then you start to think, this isn’t at all like Target!

ross

Yeah, they’re layering on extra information. But finally we make our way to the 5th floor by the Ray-Dolby Ballroom. I guess that’s what it’s called. And there they had kind of a group of people to greet us and warn us, “Hey, there’s gonna be no photography at this thing, okay?” [Carrie responds affirmatively.] One guy said, “Just so you know, don’t want you lifting up your phone and then you getting tackled by a bunch of people. [Carrie reacts, saying “wow” and laughing.] I’m thinking, “Well, we went from hugging to tackling real quick here.”

carrie

That’s the most aggressive form of hugging there is.

ross

And they checked your bag.

carrie

Yup. My Bambi backpack.

ross

It’s kind of like going to Disneyland where, you know, all of the sudden my wife is the suspect one because she’s got a purse. Digging through it like, “Yes sir, go through with your bulky jacket, you’re fine.”

carrie

[Muttering] But you can hide your vape in your bra, everyone. Just hide your vape in your bra. It’s fine. [Both start laugh.]

ross

No, they’re gonna tackle you at Disneyland. “We know you. You’ve seen your feet on the internet, and we’re taking your vape.”

carrie

Just watching all the feet as they come in, not even looking at the faces. “She’s coming one day.”

ross

“Oh, that’s Carrie! I recognize those feet! I’d know those anywhere.” Then right beyond that sort of security line, there was a tent set up outside of that main ballroom where—

carrie

A tentative tent.

ross

—you could get into a line or two or three. I liked the line on the left. It was called “retreatants.”

carrie

Yes! That’s a pretty good word.

ross

So if you’re a part of the retreat, you get to go stand in that line. And then there was a line that said “first time meeting Amma”. That’s us.

carrie

And then “first time this tour”. So you’ve been hugged by Amma before, but not on this particular tour. That’s for them. [Ross responds affirmatively.] And then there’s yet another line for general public.

ross

So I was thinking we’re probably gonna get top billing, ‘cause it’s our first time.

carrie

Yeah. We’re gonna be like—

ross

She wants to prioritize us.

carrie

—the first 40 people.

ross

I hope so. So, there’s also people coming by wearing these scarves, and they’re explaining to us how this whole system works. And they’re saying, okay so. Oh man, there’s all these rules and contingencies and things to be aware of. So you’re being fed a ton of information by a couple of people who stop by.

carrie

Right. They have an interesting little system. They—I mean, gotta say, these people are up on it. They are organized. [Ross responds affirmatively.] And so someone comes up and gathers you and maybe two people in front of you, two people behind you. And using just barely a little more than their inside voice says, “I’m gonna talk to you five people specifically. Now here are the rules.” And then when two more people come, they kind of turn and form a new cluster with that. “Hi, now we’re gonna go over the thing again.” Yeah, everyone’s got a job, everyone gets it done quickly.

ross

And we were only maybe a dozen, or a dozen and a half people back in that line. So I thought, “Oh, we’ve got this down. We’re gonna get so hugged.”

carrie

“We are gonna get hugged and we’re gonna get out of here and we’re gonna go have dinner.”

ross

So first a guy comes and talks to us and tells us all the rules, and then a woman comes by. Both of them white folks in their 60s, I’d say.

carrie

I don’t know. I’m bad at that.

ross

[Carrie responds affirmatively several times as Ross speaks.] But it was always—there’s so many people talking around that you can just kind of barely hear them. Like you said, they’re using a soft voice. And so I think I was closer to the guy when he was telling our little group. Yeah, we start learning, again, don’t take photos or recordings of any kind. They didn’t mention audio recordings but it said it in the program. [Both make ‘whomp whomp whomp’ sound.]

carrie

If I had the slide whistle I’d use it, but guys, I don’t know where the slide whistle is right now.

ross

Aw, shucks. [Carrie laughs.] Carrie lost her slide whistle.

carrie

I know! It’s a big disappointment.

ross

Oh yeah. I’m sure people would love for that to come back.

carrie

I know, right?

ross

Carrie’s— [Laughs.]

carrie

I’m looking around.

ross

—looking back behind her. Where is that slide whistle?

carrie

[Laughing] It’s the most important item in my life.

ross

Haven’t seen it since your move.

carrie

Oh, right. Yeah.

ross

Anyways, then we also learn about this token system.

carrie

Yes. Okay, so the tokens. They’re gonna pass out tokens and—

ross

In a token gesture.

carrie

—the token is going to have a combination of letters and/or numbers. And then they told us a few times, when you go in, you’re going to see letters and numbers changing and you’re waiting for your letter-slash-number.

ross

Yeah, there will be multiple signs where you can see your number as it arrives.

carrie

Right. So, I’m thinking, okay, it’s gonna be like, A one through ten, B one th—or maybe it’s all the way up to a hundred.

ross

I mean it’s sounding like the DMV at this point.

carrie

Right, totally, which I think the DMV is very well run. And the Glendale DMV, I think it’s just a joy to go.

ross

You hear that, DMV Glendale? Well done.

carrie

Good job. You do have to have an appointment though, otherwise you’re fucked. So— [Carrie breaks off, laughing.] So yeah, I’m thinking this will be like, a simple, intuitive system. Would you say it is either simple or intuitive? [Ross responds by laughing incredulously.] ‘Cause it could be. A person could make it simple and intuitive.

ross

But it’s not.

carrie

But should we?

ross

It’s not, and I think by design. Now first of all, when you hear token, when you picture your token token, in my mind I have like a poker chip consist—

carrie

I was just gonna say a poker chip!

ross

Yeah! It should be like, hard plastic, bad for the environment.

carrie

Hard plastic, maybe— [Laughs] Maybe wood, maybe metal, but something hard, [Strained] thick, and probably circular.

ross

That was starting to sound sexual there. [Carrie laughs.] Yeah. That’s what I had in mind. But no, it’s just a printed and laminated sheet of paper.

carrie

Yeah, that’s what, rectangular? Get the fuck out of here, that’s not a token.

ross

Yeah! Right? And uh— [Carrie blows raspberry.] It looks creased, like this has been used before.

carrie

It’s laminated.

ross

Yeah, so they’re reusing these, but one of Amma’s big thrusts is care for the environment, so hey. I’m glad we’re not using—

carrie

I’m glad for the reusing.

ross

—extra plastic. Yeah, but what did our token say? F-Z.

carrie

F-Z, yeah.

ross

F-Z.

carrie

So the people in front of us get E-Z and I’m thinking, oh, easy access! Cool, we’ll get that too. F-Z? What the fuck’s happening?

ross

Shouldn’t we be F-A, if we come after E-Z?

carrie

Oh right, yeah maybe. Ugh. I just think E-Z should be for easy access, and we should also get it.

ross

And F-Z should be fuzzy, Fonzie, Fozzie Bear… [Carrie says “mm-hm”.] Fareed… Fareed Zakaria.

carrie

Felonious. Freud. Fitzgerald.

ross

Fitzgerald, I like that.

carrie

Fellows. Fiddle-faddle. Febap. Fernassion. Fetchel. Fic—I don’t know what we’re doing, I’m just trying to—

ross

First Zealand.

carrie

—play along with a game that I don’t know the rules to. [Both laugh.]

ross

Alright, anyway, so we—

carrie

Fistula. [Both laugh again.]

ross

We get F-Z, so we make sure to stick it where we’ll find it later. So I put it in my wallet.

carrie

[Laughing] Okay, that sounds sexual.

ross

Look this is not hard and circular, this is just a paper token.

carrie

Hard and thick.

ross

So I put it in my wallet.

carrie

I put it in the pocket—

ross

Your bra.

carrie

[Laughing] No. Should’ve.

ross

Next to your vape.

carrie

I put it in the pocket of my big old coat.

ross

Excellent. Yeah.

carrie

End of story.

ross

Oh yeah, what are we wearing for this? Was there any kind of dress code?

carrie

There was. The only dress code that I saw was women, like you don’t want to slutty it up. It was like, you gotta—you wanna be modest or moderate or some bullshit.

ross

So good thing you didn’t show up in one of your short skirts or something.

carrie

Right. Also, it’s winter.

ross

Yeah. Actually, this is very unusual, Carrie in pants. Oh, you’re wearing pants right now.

carrie

Yeah, it’s true. I wear a lot of yoga pants.

ross

This was—I think we’ve discussed this on the show, but it took a long time before—oh, I didn’t even realize you just mentioned something about wearing skirts all the time, and I realized, oh that’s right. You pretty much always wear skirts.

carrie

I like a skirt.

ross

Somehow I didn’t notice that. I can’t even remember what I was wearing.

carrie

You were wearing a taffeta gown—

ross

Nope.

carrie

—gold sequins—

ross

No, I have a picture of us here.

carrie

Oh wait, no. This is Belle. I’m thinking of Belle.

ross

[Laughing] I’m wearing a black shirt and I think jeans. There were so many little rules about, okay well, you’re gonna go stand in a particular section, we’re gonna guide you there, and Amma likes to have people organized in a certain way. So you’ll probably be pretty close, because you’re the first timers, so that’s good. And she wants to know that when she looks out to this area, she can see her devotees, and over on this side she’ll see her new people. Okay, okay. Then I can’t remember, there were so many other instructions. I don’t know, at a certain point you tell me too many things, and it just kind of blurs together in my head.

carrie

Right, and this is definitely a situation where they’re telling you all this stuff upfront, and it’s all gonna be repeated a lot, which is fine.

ross

Yeah. Also reminded me of training videos for summer camp, because we learn how to deal with kids and different issues. And especially for kids who are not your typical, shouting or even telling a bunch of directions to them in order will just totally confuse them. So you need to give them, you know, one, two, maybe three concrete things. This, this, then this, and not give them a list of seven, because then they’ll be forgetting.

carrie

Override.

ross

Overstimulated. Overtaxed.

carrie

Overrun. Over… anyway, you get it.

ross

For anybody, like, seven things are about the most you can hold in your head at any point in time. So there were more than that. But yeah, we waited in line. There was a woman in front of us who kind of befriended us.

carrie

I don’t know why. I had not gotten a lot of sleep the last few night before this particular day, and so I was like, I was really tired and I just wasn’t down for talking to a stranger. And so a couple times I just like, turned my back to you guys, like I reject this situation.

ross

I didn’t notice at least.

carrie

Oh that’s good! Okay, good.

ross

So that didn’t come across. But oh, what a terrible day for you to have been sleep deprived.

carrie

Kinda, yes. I know where you’re going with that. On the other hand, I tried to make the most of it. I was like, “Okay, cool. You know what? In cults, this is—” I’m not suggesting Amma runs a cult, but, “—in cults people often deprive the members of sleep so that they’ll have more pronounced religious experiences.” So I was like, “Okay, no, maybe this will make it more intense.”

ross

That’s seeing the silver aura. Yeah, knowing that maybe I’ll be more predisposed to see something if there’s something. I like that. So uh, yeah. Very friendly woman. I would’ve guessed, and I did, that she was from Brazil. She was not. She was from Mexico. But yeah, we chatted for a while, and I can’t remember how it came up, but at some point, you know, just as you learn more about us, we mentioned that we’re kind of science-minded.

carrie

You were reading a science book on your phone.

ross

Oh, that’s right. She wanted to know what I was reading, and I was reading The Glass Cage by Nicholas Carr. And yeah, it’s about automation and how it’s changing and has already changed the world. And so she’s like, “Oh, I’m really into science too. Especially like, I love all these discoveries about the quantum world.”

carrie

I think this is about when I turned my back to you guys. [Both laugh.] I was like, “I can’t do this right now. I’m so tired.”

ross

I’m just thinking, “Oh, we’re going there with science. Okay.” And she’s like, “Yeah, you know, those experiments—”

carrie

And then you—but you hold out like a 2% hope that she’s gonna be like, “Richard Feynman was really interesting, the way he’d talk about these—” But no.

ross

He’s a really gifted explainer, and in fact—yeah.

carrie

I miss Carl Sagan.

ross

Usually when someone who loves science and leads with the word quantum—

carrie

You’re like, uh oh.

ross

You’re going off the deep end.

carrie

Quantum is such a weird thing too, ‘cause I hear it and I’m like, “Well, this puts me in a sticky pickle. Because I know that I know nothing about quantum theory. You seem overconfident that you do know something about quantum theory. Where does that leave us?”

ross

Yeah, the maxim is if you think you understand quantum theory, you don’t.

carrie

You don’t understand quantum theory. I think that is a Feynmanism. Please, send us a lot of email! Tell us if that’s right! We don’t know how to Google, we need your help! [Both laugh.]

ross

But yeah, it is Richard Feynman.

carrie

Okay, cool, cool, cool.

ross

Brilliant man. Probably one of the most brilliant people who ever lived. No, she didn’t mention him. Instead, she was talking about, “Oh, I love those experiments where they find that people know they’re being looked at, even though they can’t see, you know, they’re sensing extra things.” And I’m struggling to remember the name, and I think you come up with Rupert, and I come up with Sheldrake.

carrie

I had my back to you guys, and I was like, “Rupert Sheldrake.”

ross

You had your back to us, but you could see we were looking at you.

carrie

[Laughing] I could feel it. I’m one of those dogs that can feel when their owner is coming home.

ross

So we were just kind of benignly, “Okay, that’s—there’s a lot of interesting things there.”

carrie

So for the listeners, Rupert Sheldrake is this, uh, scientist, who is maybe so open-minded to the concept of paranormal activity that he maybe isn’t looking as skeptically as he could at his own results.

ross

Right, and finding ways to take random results and really amplify the significance in any one of his studies. He also looks into like, the dogs who know when their owners are coming home.

carrie

Which I gotta say, Ella always knows when you’re on your way here. I think it’s because you—

ross

I have called.

carrie

—you buzz in through the gate, I go, “hey, yup!” and then I go [imitates buzzing sound], and she’s like, “Those are the sounds for Ross is coming.”

ross

That’s enough material there for a Pavlovian response. That’s what it is. Anyway, so at least I think we implanted just the slightest grain of like, “Oh, you might want to look into that. There’s maybe other explanations for it.” But by that point they were finally gonna let us in.

carrie

Yay! Okay, this is gonna be easy-peasey, quicky-quicky.

ross

Nope.

carrie

She’s starting her satsang at 7 p.m. A satsang is when a person gives a sermon, if you will.

ross

A sharing of information from someone who has a lot of it.

carrie

A teaching. Sometimes satsangs take the form of a question and answer, sometimes it’s just answer. This was more of a just answer.

ross

Yeah I think, at least the first time we encountered a satsang at the self-realization fellowship, it was kind of introduced as a dialogue and then was very much not a dialogue. It was an address. [Carrie responds affirmatively.] So uh, oh yeah. We also didn’t mention we had to fill out forms. They gave us iPads or some sort of tablet, that we’d fill in our information. I haven’t gotten a ton of emails yet.

carrie

I don’t think I’ve gotten any emails from them.

ross

Well, it’s only a matter of time. Then there’s—so, we’d been waiting in line for a little over an hour, I think, before they finally brought us inside this gigantic ballroom.

carrie

And then we zipped right through and got our hugs.

ross

[Laughing] So, yeah. It’s that same cavernous room where I had been for the L. Ron Hubbard life celebration.

carrie

And got kicked out.

ross

[Carrie responds affirmatively multiple times.] That I got kicked out of, because I posted to our Facebook page pictures while I was there. I think I was kind of egging them on a little bit, just to see, are they paying attention? Are they gonna come find me? They did.

carrie

They are paying attention.

ross

I could see Long walking through the aisles, kind of looking at his phone, and then looking up to like triangulate where was this photo taken.

carrie

Yeah, where was the person sitting when they got this point of view?

ross

And so, interesting in that the room was reversed. So before the main stage had been over where Amma had her shops, and so this was in reverse. So as you walk in, again, gigantic high up ceiling. The ceiling’s probably like, I dunno, thirty feet high. And to your right, there’s all of these kind of walls made of curtains. Like they’ve strung up this metal scaffolds, upon which are hanging these curtains to create a wall where they can do all their preparation.

carrie

Like a stage.

ross

Yeah, and then there’s a big cube that’s covered in like, thicker curtains. Clearly it’s like, this is the special area.

carrie

Right, and it’s on a raised dais.

ross

Mm-hm. So you’re thinking, oh, Amma must be in there. This is where the action’s gonna happen. So that was the centerpiece. But then you have a sea of chairs, and I estimated somewhere between a thousand and twelve hundred chairs.

carrie

Okay. That sounds right. I’m glad to hear that you were somewhere near my estimate, ‘cause usually I’m wildly off. But when Drew asked me how many people were there, I said, “I’m gonna say eight hundred to a thousand.” I feel like that’s close enough.

ross

There you go, yeah. There’s a name for this effect—and again, we’re gonna get a bunch of emails about it—but if you have people guess the number of beans in a jar, or the weight of this cow, you get all these widely varying predictions, but if you plot them out you’ll usually get a distribution curve that centers right over the correct answer.

carrie

Oh, sure. That makes sense.

ross

And it’s an odd example of the wisdom of crowds actually panning out. So, there we go, sample size of two, we’re already narrowing in.

carrie

That’s a good argument for polling the audience on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

ross

Ah! Yeah, it is. So, then you have all your seats. They’re white chairs in rows and grids.

carrie

And to get to them, you walk over this design that seems to have been intentionally lain throughout the room. So—

ross

Of masking tape.

carrie

Yeah, or um—

ross

Foot placement tape.

carrie

Exactly. I think it’s that stuff, because it reflects light in the dark as well. And it was in like, crosses or X’s that are within a rectangle, and within those X’s there was another cross. It seemed very distinct.

ross

It seemed like a purposeful pattern, yeah. Like as an alien landing strip or something. Because it would’ve been very easy to lay them out to say, “here’s where the chairs go.” And they did align with that, but then there’s additional crossings of this hot pink and yellow tape. And you said you saw people kind of purposefully stand in certain parts of it?

carrie

Well, when we walked in, I turned around and I saw someone else walk in, and as she hit that mark, that part marked with the tape, she kind of like, leaned down and put her hand in one of them or something, and made a motion with her hand. It felt very much like someone who enters a catholic chapel and sees the cross and just immediately like reflexively touches their chest in the mark of the cross. It felt like that.

ross

So either there was some significance to the layout of this tape or we’re just making shit up.

carrie

That lady was very weird. [Ross laughs.] She just does that in every room.

ross

So, uh. So Carrie.

carrie

Yes, Ross is it?

ross

Speaking of bras, if you had to hide your vape somewhere, what kind— [Both chuckle.] Tell me about the type of bra that you’d want to hide it in.

carrie

I mean, listen, is anybody still using a vape after all these vape deaths? I don’t know, maybe you should reconsider it. But if you were using a vape, you should hide it in a ThirdLove bra.

ross

Hey, they’re designed with tagless labels. They have straps that won’t slip.

carrie

Yes, my favorite thing about them.

ross

And they have thin memory foam cups. They come in over eighty sizes, including their signature half-cup sizes. I mean, what more could you want?

carrie

Well, you could want a fit finder quiz. That’s right! A fit finder quiz on their website that helps you identify your breast size and shape in about sixty seconds.

ross

But let’s say for whatever reason, it doesn’t fit perfectly and you want to return it. Guess what, returns and exchanges are free, and ThirdLove donates all of their gently used and returned bras to women in need, supporting charities in their local San Francisco Bay area and across the United States.

carrie

Sweet! ThirdLove knows there’s a perfect bra for everyone, so right now they’re offering our listeners 15% off their first order.

ross

So, to do that go to ThirdLove.com/ohno right now. Find your perfect fitting bra and get 15% off your first purchase.

carrie

That’s ThirdLove.com/ohno for 15% off today. But there was another company that wasn’t represented at the Amma event that I wish had been there. Do you know what I’m thinking about?

ross

[Carrie says “mm-hm” repeatedly as Ross speaks.] I’m thinking of another shape. Uh, we’ve talked about rectangles. We’ve talked about criss-cross lines.

carrie

We’ve talked about tokens.

ross

But I’m thinking of a very specific type of rectangle. One with equal sides and equal angles, called a square.

carrie

That’s right! Squarespace!

ross

That’s my kind of space.

carrie

And all sorts of people use Squarespace. If you’re a guru, if you’re a person who sells the merchandise of a guru, if you are an astrologist, a palmistry reader, an ayurvedic doctor. You gotta have a website.

ross

A fan of women’s feet.

carrie

[Laughs] You should have a website!

ross

And you can create a beautiful site using Squarespace to create a blog, or publish content, create your physical or online business, to announce an upcoming event or special project. There’s so much you can do with a website.

carrie

It’s true, and you know what, I must say. I recently made a website with Squarespace, and it looks frickin’ good. [Ross responds emphatically.] And you know what? I used promo code OHNO. Yes, I did.

ross

You did? Fantastic.

carrie

Yeah. So, go to DrewCarrieShow.com and see my wedding website. But also, Squarespace gives you access to beautiful templates created by world class designers.

ross

World class you say?

carrie

Yes, yes! Powerful e-commerce functionality if you want to sell sh—

ross

If you want to sell sea shells by the sea shore?

carrie

[Laughing] Yes, exactly. And a new way to buy domains and choose from over 200 extensions. And they have 24/7 award winning customer support, not that you’ll frickin’ need it, because it’s so intuitive. I slapped that mofo right up on the internet and went to bed.

ross

I volunteer at Camp Quest West and I’m also on the board, and we were talking on a meeting recently about redesigning our website. So, one guy said, “Oh, I’m gonna build it on Squarespace,” and I said, “Promo code OHNO!”

carrie

Nice! Yeah.

ross

And they all laughed.

carrie

Save them some money.

ross

I hope they did.

carrie

And they’ll build it beautiful, you know what I mean? So check out Squarespace.com/ohno for a free trial, and when you’re ready to launch, do what Ross’ friend did and use the offer code OHNO to save 10% off your first purchase of a website or domain.

ross

You’ll be a daisy if you do.

carrie

You’ll still be a daisy if you don’t, I guess.

ross

Well, speaking of buying things, we wanted to go check out the wares! What’s available?

carrie

Yeah, you know I wanted to go back there and—

ross

We kind of took turns, because you want to guard your seats. They did usher us in, and there was sort of a front section, very narrow with just like, four seats wide. And they were very careful about, “Okay, you can sit here, you can sit here. You know what? You two, you come with me, we’re going back over here instead.”

carrie

It reminded me a lot of being in a line for a ride at a theme park and it’s like, “You have two? Okay, no, I need someone with one. I need someone with three, or two. Over here, you’re going over here. Follow her, follow her!”

ross

Right. And our friendly not-Brazilian woman in front of us like, eagerly ran ahead of us to go grab one of the available spots. And so after that they said, “Okay, well you two come back here with us.” So we got moved back quite a ways, at least behind the big divide between the rows. So, that probably cost us thirty feet of closeness to Amma, but I’m not bitter.

carrie

Well, we’re still so close to the front, in the section for people who have never hugged Amma. Surely, surely, we will get to hug her soon.

ross

Yeah, we’re about halfway through the audience, and we’re on the far left. Now I’ve rotated our orientation here. I was talking as you walk into the room about the right being the front and the left being the shopping area. Now I have us sitting in our seats, facing the big—

carrie

Stage-ish.

ross

Yeah, the big curtained square on the dais. That’s as descriptive as I can get for the moment. So, you go off wandering first, and I kind of hold our seats.

carrie

So at this point, what time do you reckon it is? Seven-ish?

ross

I would say like 6:30.

carrie

6:30. That sounds right. Well, first I went to pee. Lovely bathroom. No complaints. Then—

ross

Well, where was the bathroom?

carrie

You used it at one point.

ross

Oh, outside. Oh, that’s right, and they let you leave and come back, ‘cause once you’ve got your token and you’ve saved a spot, you’re free to move about the cabin.

carrie

Mostly. Later, something will happen.

ross

Yes.

carrie

No, I mean even though I, at a point I had my token, I almost didn’t get let back in anyway.

ross

Really?

carrie

I’ll tell you in a minute. [Ross gasps indignantly multiple times, and each time Carrie responds emphatically.] I know! What a night. So I went to the back, and you were holding down the fort for us. I go back there and— [Laughing] I’m traveling there in my mind, and I’m seeing little Carrie who doesn’t know yet what she’s about to discover. So, I walk up to this table and there’s a bunch of stuff that has been near Amma. So, here is a little statuette that was in her bedroom for a while. It doesn’t look like Amma, it’s not even particularly Indian or particularly vedantist. It’s just two children standing under an umbrella, or a kitten kicking over a glass of milk. And then there are things like Amma’s hair bands, Amma’s discarded shoes, Amma’s socks.

ross

Often with labels that say, “This was worn once by Amma.” [Carrie laughs and responds affirmatively.] Which makes you realize that clearly there is a system here where someone says, “Okay Amma, tonight you’re gonna wear this hair barrette, and we’re gonna have you wear this wrist bracelet. You know what, here, wear these 20 wrist bracelets.”

carrie

And we’re going to go ahead and give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they at least do that.

ross

[Carrie responds affirmatively multiple times while Ross speaks.] Mm-hm. Good point. Kind of like we were talking about with our blessed tuning forks from SoulMalas. Someone pointed out very intelligently later that we were dealing with a drop ship company. You know, they found something they could buy online for four dollars and they had a markup to make it, you know, twenty or whatever, make it forty. And then they’re adding this extra blessing on top of it, and they never even see the object. So you’re saying, you know, it’s gracious even assuming that it’s actually been in Amma’s presence.

carrie

Yes. Though I think it probably has. I think probably they move it like you’re saying, but no proof thereof, no certificate of authenticity with these items. And how much do you think—listener, please. Think to yourself, how much do you think they are selling—

ross

For a tiny hair comb.

carrie

—Amma’s hair bands, dirty.

ross

Like a scrunchie, yeah.

carrie

Oh, not even. Like, I’m talking about the actual hair tie, like the elastic thing. [Ross responds affirmatively several times.] I get a pack of 30 of these for like, 2-3 bucks at the Rite Aid. Listener, pause and ask yourself, how much are they selling one for?

ross

How much is this worth to you?

carrie

Okay, did you do it? It’s a hundred and eight dollars. [Ross recites the cost in unison with Carrie.] What?

ross

A hundred and eight, highly specific number.

carrie

So specific, and we would see that number over and over. So many things were exactly $108, and I was like, okay this is some kind of holy number or something.

ross

And that is the case!

carrie

Yeah. What did you find out?

ross

[Carrie responds affirmatively multiple times while Ross speaks.] Just saw that 108 is considered a sacred number within the Hindu tradition and for many Buddhists. And I found a site that was also finding kind of esoteric uses of 108 in other texts, and really trying to oversell 108, so. What did you get?

carrie

Well, in Days With The Universal Mother by Swamini Atmaprana, she said that there are 108 mantras that describe Amma that her followers chant.

ross

Oh, interesting. Okay, well my guess is then that was kind of a back formation of like, how do we make this number significant to us? But I had a little glimmer in my mind of 5th grade Ross saying, “Hey, that’s also the number of stitches in a baseball!”

carrie

Oh, is that true?

ross

[Carrie responds affirmatively multiple times while Ross speaks.] I was like, “That can’t be right,” and I looked it up. It’s right. For whatever reason, I was trying to find somewhere, oh please tell me that there’s this fun tradition of like 108 stitches in a baseball being related to the holy number. No. At least not that I could find. So if anybody knows that, that would be interesting. I was also wondering, “Wait a second, then is it red for a reason?” Like, is it red stitching ‘cause it’s like [Whispering] to keep away the evil eye? Uh, no. It was just that it used to be blue and red but I guess red was like, more visible on the ball. So it’s just a way to make it easier for the batter. Anyways. That’s a whole aside. So yeah, $108 for a tiny little knick-knacks that had been touched by her.

carrie

Yeah, touched by an Amma. And there were also—this was my favorite thing for sale there. It was so funny that I pulled out my phone and snapped a picture surreptitiously, against the rules.

ross

I won’t tell.

carrie

[Ross responds affirmatively multiple times while Carrie speaks.] Oh my god. They were these little cloth… I guess maybe placemats might have been the original function? So, it was this pretty satin framing and then dead center there was just a white piece of cloth, and the tag coming off it said, “Drawn by Amma”. Like, this is her art. And what?

ross

[Laughing] I didn’t see that, actually. I’m glad you saw it and took a picture.

carrie

Oh, wow! Her art. [Laughing] She does not give two shits about this operation.

ross

Now if you remember our Teal Swan investigation, you could buy original Teal Swan calligraphy and artwork. The artwork was pretty cool, the calligraphy? Bad. But they were pretty expensive.

carrie

And at least you were like, “Someone spent ten minutes on this.”

ross

Right, some shits were given.

carrie

Yes. Some shits. Amma gives no shits. [Ross laughs.] It is like a—I’m not—you’re gonna think this sounds mean, but it is clearly just someone who doesn’t care. It’s like a two year old took some crayons and went like, scribble scribble scribble, “Mom, I drew you this ‘cause dad said I have to draw something on Mother’s Day! This is a picture of our house!”

ross

“Are you gonna put it on the fridge now? You gonna put it on the fridge?”

carrie

“Oh, honey, this is so good. I dunno if it’s ready for the fridge—” [Ross cracks up in the background.] “—but it’s so good.” That’s what you get.

ross

Mm-hm. Yeah, you showed me that picture and it was bad.

carrie

It’s ridiculous.

ross

It’s just like, here’s some very lightly drawn red lines. Okay, here’s slightly perpendicular blue lines, and here’s some yellow ones. Okay, done. I don’t wanna touch this anymore.

carrie

It is crazy. And how much is that selling for?

ross

$108?

carrie

$360.00

ross

What? [Carrie starts laughing and affirms multiple times.] 360? Oh my goodness. Also highly specific.

carrie

That’s too much money.

ross

Okay. Corresponds to like, a complete rotation. 360 degrees.

carrie

Yeah, I feel like it must have something to do with a circle.

ross

Almost a full year.

carrie

And there were also sleeping gowns she had worn. Those were going for several hundred dollars.

ross

Yeah, and then they had these beautiful uh, like embroidered sarees, outfits that she had worn, and for that they did have evidence. They had photos of her. “Look, she wore it on this day!” And it would be this beautiful, ornately designed kind of stoll that went over this—not dress, but something kind of in that form. So I asked the woman, because those didn’t have prices on them.

carrie

Oh, I thought I saw one and it was like 600 bucks.

ross

[Carrie responds affirmatively multiple times while Ross speaks.] Oh, okay. No, at least the table I was looking at didn’t have any listed price. And I said, “Oh, how much do these sell for?” ‘Cause I’m looking at a little hair band that’s $108. And the woman said, “Oh, that is for a very significant donation.”  Meaning, “I don’t think you can afford it.”

carrie

Wow! Wow! Okay.

ross

Yeah it was just—yeah. It was not worth mentioning to someone like me.

carrie

Wow! You are the riff-raff. [Ross laughs and agrees.] She was like, “Um, let me see your token. F-Z? [Laughing] This isn’t for you.”

ross

“Begone, hoi polloi.” So uh, yeah. So much for that.

carrie

[Ross responds affirmatively several times.] They also had some books out and I thought, okay, cool! I’ll go get a book by Amma. She’s your spiritual leader, she’s gonna have a lot to say. But most of the books were by people who are followers of Amma, often followers of many years so they are solely about Amma. But I was surprised that there weren’t more just things by her.

ross

Yeah, that seems like a missed opportunity. Yeah, I went to the book sellers and said, oh, I want this uh, Sri Mātā Amritānandamayī, a biography. So that is kind of her long form title. We’ll talk about this in a bit. She goes by many names.

carrie

Yeah, she has a longer, formal guru name, which is almost all on that title.

ross

[Carrie responds affirmatively multiple times.] Oh, yeah, devi is added to that, which is the personification of the mother. The divine mother.

carrie

And her birth name Sudhamani Idamannel. Please forgive our poor pronunciations.

ross

Right, yes, uh, we’re going kind of phonetically here. But yeah, this was written by—here we go again—Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri. Looking online, we realized that he is one of her chief followers. Kind of her chief lieutenants, if you will. So I thought, okay, well, I can learn a bit about her biography. But can you just buy it there? No, sir.

carrie

No. Why don’t we use a very old system where you tell us what you want, we write down what you want on a piece of paper, we hand the piece of paper to you, you collect—

ross

Maybe we set it aside for you, maybe we don’t.

carrie

[Laughing] You collect a bunch of these sheets of paper, you go to a cashier, you hand them all the sheets of paper, you say, “I want to buy all these things and my mom said I could.” They say, “Okay, cool, cool, cool.” Then they add them up, and they give you a receipt. Then you walk back to each table individually and you say, “I gave them my money.” And they say, “Okay,” and then they give you your stuff.

ross

That’s how it works!

carrie

What is this, 1999?

ross

So I got one of those little slips of paper. I think it was 13 dollars for the biography.

carrie

Oh, well, you know what, I would’ve expected it to be a little more, looking at it.

ross

Yeah, not bad. It wasn’t $108.

carrie

True. I would’ve thought you could sell this for 25 at an event that is, you know, centering on this person.

ross

I would assume for these really expensive items that there’s probably some sort of idea that, oh this is going toward a good cause, you’re also helping our ministry. I didn’t hear anything or see anything explicitly to that effect.

carrie

Ah-ha. Okay. There was one table that did have that. It’s off to the left in the back corner. They explicitly on their little tags said like, this goes to the Amrita foundation to like, support those in need.

ross

Ah, that makes sense. Okay. Yeah, also organized around the left side of the room, there’s also various organization that are represented, like you would see at any, I don’t know, career fair or other kind of fair. It seems like all of these are associated organizations, and people I guess who decided to act as vendors. Like there was, I noticed one guy performed horoscopes related to your precise birth moment.

carrie

Oh, phew, finally.

ross

Yeah, there was—I read this long description of how we need to arrive within minutes of your actual birth, and it’s gonna be a lot of extra work if you don’t know the exact minute you were born.

carrie

Oh, wow. You know, my best friend Claire, her birth certificate is 20 days off.

ross

What? How? Why?

carrie

[Laughing] Wait, actually, 22 days off. Because she was delivered by a midwife, and it was a particularly long labor, and it sounds like the doctor was also not so good. And so when she was finally born, the story is the midwife was so excited, it was February 24th, she wrote February 2 and she just didn’t put the 4 down. And Claire’s legal birthday is February 2nd, but she was born February 24th.

ross

Oh, that’s wild. She’s like a regular Paul Twitchell. [Carrie laughs and responds affirmatively.] Who knows when she was born?

carrie

Claire, start a religion. It’s time.

ross

You know, actually there’s gonna be another Claire reference later, ‘cause I was reminded of her as I was reading the biography.

carrie

Oh, okay. Well, she also grew up vedantist, which is the philosophy that Amma is a part of. Woah!

ross

Anyways yeah, there were all these little organizations. We both picked up a flyer from Amrita, which is the university that Amma founded.

carrie

Yes, it’s also the name of her non-profit and her hospital. So, Amrita is kind of like the umbrella—

ross

Umbrella, okay. Yeah, there’s a lot going on. She’s quite the entrepreneur. She’s founded a lot of things, and yeah, a pretty legit organization, it looks like.

carrie

Yeah, I admit I thought, “Uh oh, this isn’t gonna be good” when I saw hospitals. I thought I’m gonna open this up and they’re gonna be like, “We do a applied kinesiology, and we put stones on your feet and whoop, you’re better.”

ross

Right, but not so much.

carrie

No. This place is legitimate. They did the first double arm transplant in India.

ross

Yeah, and they’ve got all these like research organizations into nanotechnology and biotechnology, cybersecurity, engineering—I’m looking at their website—green technologies, they care about the environment, medical sciences, learning technologies, management. Like, yeah, there’s a lot of important things going on here.

carrie

We’re not just getting this all from their marketing materials. Not that we spent a long time looking into this, but—

ross

They are accredited in India.

carrie

Yeah, outside arms are saying good job.

ross

Anyways, there’s far more where we could look into that, but at least on the surface it looks like a lot of cool stuff going on.

carrie

Pretty good. And I gotta say like, hey, way to use your weird thing, Amma, for something good. This is what I want gurus to be doing.

ross

Yeah, and we haven’t even described her yet, but there’s— [He breaks off and they both start laughing.]

carrie

So, she’s a woman.

ross

Yeah, there’s pictures everywhere. Yeah, beautiful, she looks to be short, Indian woman.

carrie

Full figured.

ross

Yeah, full figured, very huggable. And uh—

carrie

Really cute face. Like, aw man. Like, you know what, she has Drew cheeks, now that I look. She has like very cherubic cheeks.

ross

And she’s usually got her hair split down the middle and kind of tied back in a bun.

carrie

And kind of a cute little smile that’s like, [Speaking in a delighted tone] “Oh, I know what you’re doing, you silly-billy.”

ross

Yeah, and like the teeth aren’t all perfectly aligned. She’s just got this kind of uh, very relatable like, you’re just a real human. And she’s almost always got the Hindu bindi on her forehead, the red dot. But typically surrounded by like, a very light gold, almost a silver gold paint. And I’m not sure what’s going on here, I wasn’t able to find anything about this. So, if anybody knows, let me know. But sometimes the red dot would be centered perfectly inside the larger white-gold dot, sometimes it would be at a tangent at the bottom of that larger circle, like the red would be not centered, it would be at the bottom.

carrie

As if it had slipped.

ross

Yeah, and it looked very intentional, so I’m just curious why is it sometimes one and sometimes the other. It seemed almost 50/50. But, you know, traditionally that signifies the location of the third eye.

carrie

And we found out that red—

ross

—usually denotes a married woman, but has other meanings.

carrie

Yeah, also is uh—

ross

Blood.

carrie

Yeah, blood, and like, strong search for—it was like a strength kind of thing.

ross

The different colors have different meanings. But yeah, pictures of her everywhere. She’s usually wearing a loose-fitting dress with sleeves. Earrings.

carrie

Mm-hm. I had noticed the nose ring.

ross

Yes, and the nose ring.

carrie

A very pretty one.

ross

Yeah. So there’s definitely some jewelry going on.

carrie

Mm-hm. And you might be wondering, what does Amma mean? Amma means “mother”.

ross

Yeah, and particularly the divine mother. And no noticeable make-up really, besides—

carrie

The bindi.

ross

Yeah, she just looks very pleasant and my first thought is, “Oh, this is just really cool that all these people really care about and follow and listen to attentively this very normal looking Indian woman.”

carrie

Yeah. I can’t wait to hear her speak. Uh, then this bomb gets dropped on you: she doesn’t speak English. Which obviously, fine, but I feel like this is something to tell people upfront.

ross

Yeah, indeed. But what she does speak—apparently just one language, they don’t mention multiple languages—is pretty much the coolest name for a language: Malayalam, which is a palindrome.

carrie

Woah! Okay, okay!

ross

Right? That’s pretty cool. [Carrie spells it out to herself and Ross affirms.] And apparently like, 38 million people speak it. It’s mostly just restricted to that kind of district to India, sort of towards the—as you picture India tapering down to a point, you know, where Sri Lanka is right off the coast, sort of toward the bottom of that point on the left side, that’s the Kerala district, and she’s from that region. They speak Malayalam. But India’s got over a billion people, and so there’s like, I guess 38 million just in that side of that small, heavily populated area.

carrie

That’s funny, ‘cause I listened to an interview today with one of her disciples and she said that Amma had hugged exactly 38 million people, but it was just her town.

ross

[Laughing] Every single paisano who speaks my language gets hugged.

carrie

Probably not. But yeah, she’s a Libra. You were all wondering what’s her sign, she’s a Libra, though she would be following a different horoscope. But she was born September 27th, 1953, with the birth name Sudhamani Idamannel.

ross

From reading her biography, which I’ve gotta say, as I was reading it I was thinking, “How much of this could be truthful?” It is very much a hagiography. You know, clearly this is, you know, written about a saintly person, and there’s these stories about her childhood that make you think, “Hmm, I feel like there’s more to that story.”

carrie

Right, and were you there, dear author?

ross

Right, yeah, how were these stories conveyed, and by whom? Of course, I’m sure Amma was telling him a lot of these things directly. But yes, she was born in a fishing family, and her parents gave birth to 13 children.

carrie

Oh! I read that she was one of six children.

ross

So, four died at birth.

carrie

Oh gosh.

ross

One died very young, like maybe two months old. And then I think there were four sisters and four brothers. She was one of the sisters. I think she was the like, second oldest child, one of the older children. And I guess at some point one of the other siblings must’ve been lost, because I’ve read since then that she has six siblings.

carrie

Yeah, okay. My goodness. Difficulties to befall one family.

ross

Yeah. They are the Idamannel family. I-D-A-M-A-N-N-E-L. She was originally born as—

carrie

Sudhamani.

ross

—Sudhamani. And then she had a nickname. Here’s the clear connection. Sudhamani apparently means “ambrosial jewel”.

carrie

Oh, okay. Pretty.

ross

And then she got the nickname Kunju—

carrie

Which means “small girl”?

ross

“The little one.”

carrie

Aww!

ross

Yeah, and so I thought of Claire.

carrie

I call Claire small girl, everybody.

ross

Yeah, and that was you that came up with that, and then she called you—

carrie

Big boy!

ross

Big boy.

carrie

[Laughing] And we’ve been calling each other that since we were seventeen.

ross

[Carrie affirms multiple times as Ross speaks.] But she was born the color blue. She was like a dark blue. And immediately you think of all of the images of Krishna and think, “Okay, well this is already foretelling that she will be an important personage.”

carrie

Right. You know, Drew was born blue, which usually means the baby was deprived of oxygen.

ross

Ah, interesting. Okay, maybe that was at play, or maybe they just remembered her being kind of blue-ish. Maybe memory has colored her, I don’t know. But they kind of indicate that that followed her and she stayed blue, and then at certain times her blueness would especially show up. She did not look blue when I saw her. I’m surprise she doesn’t take—

carrie

A colloidal silver?

ross

[Both laugh, and Carrie affirms multiple times.] Yeah. Exactly, colloidal silver. ‘Cause that would make her more blue, and then she could be like, “See? Look.”

carrie

“Told ya. I’m poisoning myself but look at me.”

ross

You have to take quite a bit. But, so that was clearly a reference that she was like, the embodiment of Krishna. And so it tells the story of her. As she’s growing up, she’s just the most devout child, and with every breath she will whisper the divine name of God, and of Krishna.

carrie

What a killjoy.

ross

Multiple times they’ll describe like, oh, she’ll be walking along as she walks from one village to the next, and every step she will say the name of Krishna, or—

carrie

Oh! She has OCD.

ross

—or the Divine Mother, and if she misses one she’ll step back and then redo it.

carrie

She has OCD. [Ross laughs.] Or, this isn’t true.

ross

Yeah, exactly. There’s so many things that I was thinking, “Oh, this sounds diagnosable.” [Carrie laughs and agrees.] ‘Cause for example, she would—

carrie

This doesn’t sound how you think it sounds.

ross

She would regularly lose focus, you know, she’d be doing some task and they would find her sitting somewhere spacing out for two hours, because she was contemplating Krishna. Every drop of rain had Krishna in it.

carrie

What a great get out of jail free card. You stop doing your chores, you go and sit staring at the wall, and your mom asked you what you’re doing, you’re like, “I was thinking of Krishna.”

ross

Well [Laughing] it didn’t help her out, because she was beaten regularly by both her mom and dad.

carrie

Oh, fuck. Okay.

ross

And so she talks about that a lot, and you know, how put upon she is, and miserable she is. And then she’ll sing these songs to Krishna which are very much like, you know, I’m from the Christian tradition, so I think of the Psalms, where David cries out, you know, “Why have you forsaken me, O Lord? Daily I beat my breast with angst and sadness.” And she’ll say similar things, like for example, this comes later to the Divine Mother. “Oh, Mother, my heart is being torn by this pain of separation. Why does your heart not melt seeing this endless stream of tears? Oh, Mother, many great souls have adored you and thereby attained your vision, and became eternally one with you. Oh, darling Mother, please open the doors of your compassionate heart to this humble servant of yours. I am suffocating like one who is drowning.” [Carrie reacts with awe.] A lot of poems like that. And it’s so funny, ‘cause it would talk about how long suffering she is, and she doesn’t complain at all. But then she—

carrie

[Laughing] Now here is a list of her complaining.

ross

She’ll compose these poems, which are a list of her pious complaints. But it seems like at least in both traditions, you know, you have sort of God choosing the person after his own heart, who is just filled with pain or longing for him or her. So yeah, just a lot of descriptions of this. But then miracles start coming into this, and eventually she not only identifies with Krishna, but she says that, “Well, I am Krishna.” And so they start having these Krishna bhavas where people, worshippers of Krishna—which her father is—can come and visit her and essentially experience the presence of Krishna. And so that becomes a big thing, and then you know, there’s all this controversy. Okay, well, now she’s taking over this local landmark, and then the skeptics come out and try to disprove her. And that’s where a bunch of miracles come up, and of course there’s the typical thing that we see all the time, like we did very much in Paul Twitchell’s case. “Oh, you heathens who are trying to see a miracle. Ugh, you don’t deserve a miracle, and I don’t need to prove anything. But here, I’ll do this once.” And so then at one point she turns water into milk, which you can do if you have enough calcium chloride and ammonium oxalate.

carrie

Ah. You won’t make actual milk, but you’ll make something that looks like milk.

ross

Looks like milk, but looks cloudy. But then she talks about how, well then that milk is drunk by everybody, so okay, well clearly we’re not talking about that. And then it turns into this sweet pudding, and that gets shared, and it doesn’t run out. Everybody eats and it—

carrie

Oh, real mana thing.

ross

—it never empties out, and the skeptics are just so upset by this. Yeah, it is definitely a mana thing, or the Hanukkah oil story. And then they send it off to other people, and they eat their fill, and it never is depleted. So there’s lots of miracles—

carrie

Hmm. Can you name me one of those people? I’d like to chat with them. ‘Cause you’re still alive, so someone there was still alive.

ross

I’m always thinking, okay, I hate being dismissive of the story, but if you take that seriously then you have to take competing miracles seriously from other traditions. And then you need either a very inclusive religious belief that makes room for all of these, or only one of these, or maybe none of these.

carrie

And what do you do then, when they outrightly say, “Every other religion but mine is false!” How do you make that true and the others true? You can’t.

ross

So, for us consistency seekers, that becomes an issue. But yeah, there were all these stories of miraculous things happening, like rain clouds coming and rain falling on everybody except for her followers. Or, you know, someone making fun of her, they go off and they lose all of their fish that day, and their boat is wrecked. Or—

carrie

Something that I’m sure never happened in this fishing village.

ross

[Laughs] Right. Or the skeptics who tried to test her, their efforts get frustrated, and they wander away forgetting what they were supposed to do. Or—this was terrible—she said that they brought her poisoned milk, and that like she drank it. And I was not expecting the story to end this way. I thought she was going to drink the poison and be okay. But instead it says she turned towards them and she vomited up the milk. And then she kept blessing people. [Carrie mutters “okay” and “alright”.] Alright. They should be in jail for trying to kill her with lethal milk.

carrie

I wonder if it was the crappy milk from the magic trick you alluded to earlier. [Ross laughs loudly.] They were like, “Okay, go ahead and drink it! Okay, prove that that’s milk, drink it.” She’s like, “You tried to poison me!”

ross

Oh, that would be funny. That’s not how it was presented but I could see it being an alternate narrative that got turned into what I read. So, anyways, tons of miracle stories.

carrie

[Ross responds emphatically multiple times as Carrie speaks.] I have miracles to tell you, too. So, I have been reading Days With The Universal Mother Volumes 1 and 2, and the woman who wrote them is a long time devotee of Amma. She has written down a bunch of her miracles, and ugh, are they impressive, Ross. Okay, so it’s important you know that the writer—I’ll call her Leela, because that was her nickname—she was the keeper of the first aid kid at the Ashram, so she kind of slowly became the medical authority at the Ashram. Okay, miracle one. Amma’s mother, who you were saying was pretty abusive, but in this story apparently was still around. Amma’s mother gets paralysis of the intestines. They take her into the hospital. She gets two surgeries, and a bunch of IV drips, and her intestines are still not working. Finally they run out of healthy veins for the IVs, which I didn’t know was a thing that could happen, but maybe it is. So, the author, Leela, was like, “And Amma’s out of town, so she doesn’t even know this is happening with her mom. I know, I’ll pray to Amma.” So she prays to Amma for help, and Amma heard the prayer and restored function to her mom’s intestines. Now, doctors were overseeing this the whole time, but [Laughs] Amma heard the prayer. So that’s miracle one.

carrie

Miracle two, Amma approaches Leela and says she’s been cut by an iron wire that was floating in water. And Leela’s like, “Okay, cool, I’ll grab the first aid kit.” She dresses the wound. She specifically says with medicine, with like antiseptic medicine, and bandages. And the next day, the wound’s gone. Woah!

ross

Woah! I mean, if it’s gone like there’s no sign of it ever having happened, okay cool, but.

carrie

We were not told the wound was deep, though. It was just like, she had a scratch, I did the thing, it was better.

ross

Yeah, as I was reading these miracles, A) it was reminding me a lot of Paramahansa Yogananda’s biography, Autobiography of a Yogi, which had a lot of those miracles where like, okay, that’s a known trick, and I know how that could have been spun as a miracle.

carrie

And then that—don’t tip your hand like that to people like you and me, ‘cause that makes me like, “Oh shit, so this isn’t just you buying your own nonsense, this is you intentionally fooling people.”

ross

Right. And then the other class would be, you know, just life doing its random things, but we’ve latched onto certain correlations. Like, wow, this person did this and then a good thing happened. [Carrie laughs and affirms.] A lot of the miracles were like, you know, “Oh, they broke our lamp, the skeptics. And then—”

carrie

It starts working again or something.

ross

Well no, like Amma had them bring two shells, and then they put wicks in the shells without any oil, and they still burned all night. Cool. But then also somebody came and said that they had a dream that they should bring Amma an oil lamp. They brought her some new lamps.

carrie

Oh my god. That’s amazing. Yeah, there’s some of those in here, too. One is actually miracle three. At a festival, a speaker—I guess it was like a festival of Amma’s followers—and a speaker said from the dais, “Oh, Amma, it’s so hot and stuffy here, can’t you make it rain?” And everyone’s kind of like, ha ha ha. [Speaking in low, somber tone] And the next day there was a torrential downpour.

ross

[Laughing] Yeah, okay, lot of those types of miracles featured. There’s a lot of animal miracles.

carrie

Ooh! Tell me more.

ross

Oh yeah, there’s like a whole chapter on animals, so for example, there are some eagles who flew toward the ocean and returned with fish to feed her. And they’d lay it in Amma’s lap, and the first time she just ate the raw fish.

carrie

Ew! Amma!

ross

And then her mom would intercept the eagle because—

carrie

[Laughing] Quite a visual! Okay.

ross

—this kept happening. The eagles kept going to bring her fish, and bringing them back, and so the mom would get them and cook them and then give them to her.

carrie

The eagles?

ross

[Laughs] Yeah. [Carrie laughs.] No like, Amma’s mom would intercept the eagles that would drop the fish and say, “Give me that.” Then she’d go cook it and then feed—

carrie

Cook the fish not the eagle. [Both laugh.]

ross

Yes, the fish.

carrie

Okay.

ross

Oh yeah, and Amma has some weird eating habits. So apparently she would get so wrapped up in her devotions that she would eat shards of glass, or—

carrie

Amma. This is how your family’s getting paralysis of the intestines.

ross

—or human excreta.

carrie

What? She’s eating poop?

ross

Yeah, or cow dung, or tea leaves, discarded tea leaves.

carrie

Girl. Hold it together.

ross

She wouldn’t brush her teeth.

carrie

Oh, after eating poop? Amma!

ross

[Laughing] Maybe you should!

carrie

This isn’t a brag moment, this is a pull yourself together moment! Look in the mirror for a sec!

ross

[Carrie responds emphatically multiple times while Ross speaks.] She would kind of like, pass out from these very systatic visions and she would be covered in mosquitos or a dog—there was this dog that loved her and would come be her pillow. And eventually he died but she predicted how he would die, and then she said later where he was reincarnated, but wouldn’t say any more about it. [Carrie mutters “wow”.] Oh yeah, okay. In the category of weird eating, so after she had established—

carrie

Can’t get weirder.

ross

[Laughs] Well. After she had established herself—

carrie

Okay, okay. I’m trying to think of something that’s weirder. Eating your own breast.

ross

[Laughing] Okay, you’re getting—

carrie

[Screaming] What?

ross

You’re getting close! So, alright, so she’s been spending a lot of time acting as Krishna and identifying with Krishna, but at one point she has a vision of the Divine Mother. And then she’s like, “Forget this Krishna guy, I care about Devi. I care about the Mother.” So then she starts obsessing over the Mother, and becoming more at one with the Mother. So then she would see, like, any beautiful woman, and she would immediately run up to her and start fawning over her and calling her, you know, the Mother. So, at one point, she sees a woman in her town breastfeeding—

carrie

Oh no.

ross

—a child.

carrie

[Screaming] Nooo! Well, this isn’t as bad as eating poop, but okay. I see where this is going.

ross

She runs up to the woman—

carrie

Sexually assaults her.

ross

—pushes the baby out of the way, and starts feeding from her breast. The woman, for whatever reason— [Carrie makes distressed noises in the background.] It says that the woman is like, okay with this, and it happens a few times. But then she starts breastfeeding in private, [Laughing] where Amma can’t see her do this. Okay, so if that wasn’t enough, then she finds a cow, and she goes and drinks directly from the tap. Of the cow.

carrie

Oh my goodness. I mean—

ross

[Through laughter] So I’m reading these stories just like, this poor woman.

carrie

Honestly, I would rather people drink directly from the cow than went and bought cow’s milk. ‘Cause at least you’re getting in touch with what the fuck you’re doing. It’s a very weird thing.

ross

And apparently the cow would travel long distances to come position itself—

carrie

[Laughing uproariously] That’s not true!

ross

—so she could drink from it.

carrie

That is not correct! That is a lie!

ross

So I’m a little over halfway through Amma’s biography but it’s a riot. It’s great.

carrie

Oh my god. Well, okay I’ll try to—I don’t know if I can top any of that, but I’ll tell you a little about what Leela taught me. So, you’re probably wondering, how does Amma make it rain? Well, it turns out that if you’re selfless, selfless generates boundless divine energy, and the vibrations of that energy are so massive that they reach the solar atmosphere—

ross

Oh, the solar one, okay.

carrie

Uh huh, and give rise to rainfall.

ross

Wait a second, the solar atmosphere?

carrie

That’s all we need to know.

ross

That would be on the sun.

carrie

Correct. And that makes it rain. There you go, that’s all you need to know.

ross

I never knew that. And I still don’t.

carrie

[Ross responds emphatically several times while Carrie speaks.] Okay, this might be my favorite miracle. [She pauses, laughing, and Ross says “mm-hm”, intrigued.] Amma’s had a long day. She’s like, “Leela, come over here. Can you massage my arm?” Okay, so of course Leela’s like, “What an honor, oh my god, I can’t believe I get to do this.” So, Amma goes into a sort of like trance meditative state, and Leela continues to massage her arm, and it sounds like this goes on for a long time. Then Leela’s like, “Suddenly, I couldn’t move my arm very well, and it felt as if an electric shock were going through my arm.” And I’m reading this and I’m thinking—

ross

Fatigue.

carrie

“Your arm fell asleep.” [Both laugh.]

ross

You’re describing the tingles of insufficient blood flow to your arm.

carrie

Has this never happened to you? ‘Cause that happens to me if I sit on the toilet too long, lady. So, Amma awakes, and Leela’s like, “Oh my god, Amma. I have to tell you what happened, it’s so amazing. I was massaging and then my arm fell asleep and I’m still weirded out about it.” And Amma says that she had transmitted a wave of spiritual energy to me, and that’s why.

ross

Okay. We’ve seen this with Paramahansa Yogananda and Paul Twitchell and others, where somebody reports something. Oh, the dream I had about you last night or this physical sensation I had or this thing I saw, and then they take credit for it, and have this—

carrie

Let me retroactively give that meaning.

ross

Yeah, let me add a little layer of explanation for you there. You’re welcome.

carrie

Another one, someone had a boil on his back and asked Leela to treat it. She grabbed some leaves from an Amrita tree, which I guess is already known to be therapeutic. She puts those leaves on him. The leaves run out, ‘cause it’s a small tree, and the boil goes away after a while.

ross

Ooh, after a while!

carrie

[Laughing] Yup. I looked it up. If you leave a boil untreated, Harvard Medical School says it should disappear in five to seven days.

ross

After a while. [Laughs.]

carrie

Also known as “a while.”

ross

Oh goodness. I thought you would like this quote from Mātā Amritānandamayī. She says, “Human beings are not the only ones with the capacity for speech. Animals, birds, and plants—

carrie

Oh, wait. Oh, no.

ross

“—have this power, but we do not have the capability to understand. One who has the vision of the self knows all these things.”

carrie

Oh, boy. Listen, fellow vegans. We need to pull it in. Reign it in. Don’t start talking about how a cow is your spiritual sister. You sound nuts. Anyway, this did mention that Amma is one with Krishna, as you mentioned. And I guess someone asked Amma during a satsang, “How does that work? Because I’ve seen you pray to Krishna. Are you praying to yourself?”

ross

Right. Good question.

carrie

And she explained that she takes many forms, like sunlight has many colors in it. So it reminded me of the whole trinity explanation we always got. Oh, well, water can be liquid, or ice, or gaseous stain. But it’s still water.

ross

I feel a little tinge of guilt when you say that, because at my Methodist church that I was at from maybe the age of 10 to 17, I would uh, occasionally give a little mini-children’s sermon, right before the kids were dismissed for Sunday school. So they’d come up to the front of the church and sit up on the stairs leading up to the altar, and someone would teach a little lesson.

carrie

Yeah, time for young Christians.

ross

Yeah, sometimes I’d get to volunteer. And so one time it was my turn to give a talk on the trinity, and I made like a little chart that I had that I could hold up in front of the congregation, and I had used that very particular example of the three states of water, and yet it’s—

carrie

It’s a very smart analogy.

ross

—it’s all the same. And I had drawn the symbol of the trinity, and I had all these little graphics. So it reminds me of being a dorky little kid, teaching other kids about the trinity.

carrie

But those analogies are very good if you don’t think about them for any more than a few seconds, ‘cause then you start thinking, “Well what if it’s not like that?” [Ross laughs.] “All you’ve told me is that it’s like that. How do I know it’s like that? What if it’s not?”

ross

Yeah, ‘cause you can make any metaphor you want. They’re not all valid.

carrie

Yeah, I could be like, “Charles Manson is Jesus. It’s like how bread can be croutons. Okay? Cool.” [Both laugh.] “Stop thinking.” But that doesn’t tell you anything.

ross

It doesn’t. Anything could be like anything. You can form both valid, coherent sentences with words you can form nonsensical ones as well. Nothing can stop you, and one day you too could be president.

carrie

Oh my god. I wish he made sentences that make that much sense.

ross

Bringing it down.

carrie

He wouldn’t even say that crouton thing. He’d be like, [Trump impression] “Eh, they say it’s like bread is made of yeast, but also it’s like, do you wanna bake anything? I dunno.”

ross

Someone said, “Sir, sir. This is the best bread. You make the best bread.”

carrie

And I said, “I know, but they said yeah.” [Trump impression ends.] Oh, I hate him. Okay, miracle six! [Both start laughing.] A young boy was singing praise to Amma for years in hopes that she’d give him a car, and after years of studying and graduating grad school at university, he could afford a car.

ross

Oh, come on!

carrie

Miracle! That is a miracle!

ross

That’s taking credit for someone’s hard work.

carrie

This is Rhythmia level miracles.

ross

That’s not even self-affirming prophecy. That’s just somebody working hard in life.

carrie

Yeah, I would be like, “Screw you, Amma. You definitely didn’t help me, and I had to help me. You kinda wasted my time.”

ross

Yeah. What’s this guy’s name?

carrie

Uh, “young boy”.

ross

Amma helps young boys that help themselves.

carrie

[Laughs] Exactly. And then last miracle I’ll share with you is that Leela saw drops of water on Amma’s photo and wiped them off, but for some reason she used her cheek to wipe it off the photo. And the next day, Amma hugged her and they touched cheeks.

ross

Oh, goodness. Trying to think what situation I’d be in that would cause me to dry off a photo with my cheek.

carrie

[Laughs] Yeah, I think maybe if like, your—

ross

“Well, my clothes are really filthy.”

carrie

Yeah, something like that, or your other hand is sticky.

ross

[Laughing] “I just finished wrestling this pig, but my cheek is still clean.”

carrie

Oh wait, maybe—okay, if you were jacking off to the photo— [Ross laughs incredulously and says “oh no”.] —you get the droplets on there. Well, I mean, it adds up! That’s it for our show.

ross

[Laughs.] This is a representative segment of the book that spells out a lot of Amma’s world versus the outside world. “Sometimes Sudhamani would become God intoxicated while waiting at the bus station. Forgetting the external world, she rolled on the ground and burst into blissful peals of laughter. Of course, people could not comprehend her state, and would gather around her, watching in astonishment.”

carrie

Uh-huh, thinking, “Oh, this poor dissociative woman, how do we get her help?”

ross

“Others would tease and rebuke her, calling her a crazy girl.”

carrie

Also the wrong response.

ross

“Children used to stand around her, ridiculing her. But such treatment was lost on Sudhamani. What taunting words could reach the world where she was reveling?” So yeah, a lot of it is a girl who maybe needs help, who is just in sort of a shitty situation.

carrie

Yeah, if even accurate. I’m tempted to think they just don’t know how this comes off, and that she’s pretty mentally healthy, pretty neurotypical, and they just think this is impressive. I mean, we don’t hear anything about her continuing to have those sort of symptomatic experiences during all of these world tours.

ross

Right, right. Yeah and she has a brother, Suganama, who was very mean to her as well, and he’s an atheist, so. Real jerk.

carrie

Okay. [Laughs.] That’s all we need to know. I also listened to Rob Bell’s podcast, because he had an interview with an Amma follower who’s been her follower for many years. It’s RobCast episode 124, if y’all wanna listen. She was very well spoken, really liked the interviewee. She had been following Amma for 19 years. She had actually led the L.A. meetings for awhile. She’s the one who said that Amma had hugged 38 million people, which, okay—

ross

Alright, let’s unpack this.

carrie

Question, is this like when you say that your podcast has been heard by one million people and you actually mean you have one million downloads? ‘Cause that’s completely different. I have a feeling we got the same people rotating through a lot of the time.

ross

Okay. Even on that note, so let’s say—

carrie

[Sing-song voice] Ross has crunched some numbers, I can see it in his eyes!

ross

The most— [He breaks off and they both laugh.] What Cara would call Depressing Math With Ross. So, let’s use the number 33 million. Okay, because I saw that number quite a bit, and that—usually like, in 2017, so I’m sure she’s added many more on top of that. But let’s be generous and say she’s hugged 33 million people. I’m picturing those McDonald’s signs, you know like, 80 billion served.

carrie

38 million hugged.

ross

That many humans have never existed.

carrie

Oh, that’s a good point. Did the—oh right, McDonald’s are just counting all those people who were getting burgers over and over.

ross

[Laughing] Right, they’re using that same math.

carrie

Okay Ross, I’m joining you in 1990 when you figured that out. [Both laugh.]

ross

So, let’s say 33 million people have been hugged by Amma. Okay, so also let’s say there were 1,200 people there the night that we were there, and all of them got hugged. We’ll tell the rest of the story later, but let’s say in one night, you can hug 1,200 people the way she does. That’s quite an effort. So, we’re gonna divide by 1,200 to see how many days—

carrie

How many nights, yeah.

ross

—it would take to hug that many people. So, let’s say every single night you had that many people arriving and being hugged. I would say that’s peak hug volume. That’s 27,500 days. Let’s divide by the number of days in a year, 365.

carrie

Point...

ross

.25, sure. We’re talking about 75 years of hugging. [Carrie hums loudly.] Amma has not been hugging that long. She started her worldwide tours in 1987.

carrie

And she’s 66. Yeah. That really makes it hard.

ross

Hmm, plothole!

carrie

We thought this was all legit before Ross pulled out his calculator, and now we have suspicions.

ross

Wait a second, how long can Santa stay at every house? .2 seconds, says Ross’ son?

carrie

Is that true, is it Andrew?

ross

Yeah, we had that conversation. I don’t remember, but it was a fraction of a second. [Both laugh.]

carrie

Good on Andrew. So, back to this interview on RobCast. So she also mentioned with reverence in her voice that she had seen Amma kiss a leper’s wounds, and that there’s video of this online. Looked it up, there is. She’s actually like, licking this person’s wounds, which, alright.

ross

Hey, you know, that’s up there with human excreta, glass, and cow dung.

carrie

Yeah, okay, fair. And I mean, you know, leprosy is like a really debilitating disease, so if this helped, great. But it is worth noting, 95% of people are immune to leprosy. It is not a high risk thing to be around. [Ross responds emphatically.] And you have to be around someone who has it for a really long time to catch it. It’s not highly—

ross

Easily communicable.

carrie

It’s thought to be highly contagious, but it’s not.

ross

Interesting.

carrie

And if you get it, I mean depending on where in the world you live, it’s not that big a deal, because antibiotics can 100% cure it. But, you know, there are parts of the world that, unfortunately, don’t have that access.

ross

Yeah. Okay, wow. Interesting.

carrie

Oh yeah, then at the end of the video they’re like, “And he was cured!” And I’m like, well, okay. That’s the interesting part. Show me that. But where’s that guy? No, no, no.

ross

Amma licking a leprosy person. That’s pretty interesting.

carrie

Yeah, fair. Then she drops this bomb: Amma can speak English, she just chooses not to.

ross

Wait, what?

carrie

[Laughing] Yeah. I wrote this down as a quote. “Amma can speak English, but she doesn’t.” So yeah, there's two options here. One is that’s true and bizarre. And the other is she lied to you about speaking English, but you speak English, so how did she manage to lie? Did she lie to someone else who then lied to you in English? What’s happening?

ross

Or maybe she speaks “Englishsilgne”, which is a palindrome. [Laughs.]

carrie

Wow. You never thought of that, did you, listeners? I sure didn’t.

ross

They didn’t know that.

carrie

They never will. But, anyway, this woman had had like a really profound experience when she went to hug Amma the first time. She said she didn’t feel anything but her husband did, but then the next day she realized all of her anger was gone, and it’s been gone ever since. So that’s why she continues to follow Amma.

ross

Well, that’s nice. Though also something you could kind of choose to do.

carrie

I mean, it sounded like she was saying the physical feeling of anger, but like, “I’m able to deal. I’m able to take a pause, take a breath.” It was like, “I just don’t feel it anymore.”

ross

Okay. Well, I certainly take that way more seriously than a lot of these miracles we’ve heard. Well, we’ve told you a lot about Amma. We’ve told you about how we got there. We’ve gotten a couple hours into our stay there. Have we been hugged yet?

carrie

We have not.

ross

No, I’m still standing with my slip. I’m about to go pay for my book. But, we have been talking your ear off for a long time, so we’re gonna wait for the next episode to tell you the rest of the story. We’re gonna read more about Amma. We’re gonna tell you more.

carrie

We’ll tell you about the two times that assassination attempts were made on her.

ross

Oh. Oh, I don’t know about this. Exciting. Okay, well—

carrie

Come on back. We didn’t do it. It wasn’t us.

ross

We had nothing to do with that. So, we’ll see you again in part two. And that’s it for this episode. Our theme music is by Brian Keith Dalton.

carrie

Our administrative manager is Ian Kramer.

ross

Our editor is Victor Figueroa.

carrie

You can support this and all our investigations by going to MaximumFun.org/donate.

ross

Yes, please.

carrie

[Ross responds emphatically several times.] And you know how else you can support us? Ross, this is my commitment, I’m saying this on the air to the world. I’m gonna make an Etsy store, and in that Etsy store, I’m gonna put up these shirts from our tour that I didn’t know I had in a trunk that I discovered about a month ago.

ross

Oh, Carrie felt so bad, because we auctioned off—

carrie

What we thought were the last ones.

ross

—the last two shirts, yeah.

carrie

For many dollars.

ross

To very generous listeners. Well, all of that went to a good cause.

carrie

It did, yeah.

ross

Turns out there are some additional shirts from our tour. This is not a gimmick or anything, it’s just that Carrie didn’t realize she had more.

carrie

No, it’s a real doof. So I’m gonna make an Etsy store. We’re gonna make them cheap. Before we were giving five dollars per shirt to a charity. We’ll give half the total amount to a charity this time.

ross

Sounds good.

carrie

And if you were one of the people who spent a lot of money on a shirt in Austin, Texas, get in touch, we’ll give you at least two extra for free. And a lot of them are red and green, so good holiday gifts.

ross

You can also support us by telling your friends about the show. Playing it for them in the car when you’re on a road trip. Getting them hooked so then they start listening to all of our episodes. Leaving a positive review.

carrie

Or just next time you’re hugging someone, just whisper in their ear, [Whispering] “Listen to Oh No, Ross and Carrie!

ross

And remember.

carrie

In the sweet, godly voice of Amma.

clip

[Indian music plays, accompanied by Amma singing and chanting.]

music

“Oh No, Ross and Carrie! Theme Song” by Brian Keith Dalton plays for several moments before ending.

promo

Music: Dramatic, movie trailer–esque music. [The hosts use very "announcer" voices in this promo.] Mark Gagliardi: We interrupt the podcast you're listening to to tell you about another podcast! That's right: We Got This with Mark and Hal. Hal Lublin: That's correct, Mark! This is Hal. We do the hard work for you! Settling all of the meaningless arguments you have with your friends. Mark: So tune in every week on the Maximum Fun network for We Got This with Mark and Hal, and all your questions will be asked... and answered. Hal: You're welcome! [Music reaches an apex and quiets down.] Mark: Alright. That's enough of that. Chorus: [Singing] We Got This!

speaker 1

MaximumFun.org.

speaker 2

Comedy and culture.

speaker 3

Artist owned—

speaker 4

—Audience supported.

About the show

Welcome to Oh No, Ross and Carrie!, the show where we don’t just report on fringe science, spirituality, and claims of the paranormal, but take part ourselves. Follow us as we join religions, undergo alternative treatments, seek out the paranormal, and always find the humor in life’s biggest mysteries. We show up – so you don’t have to. Every week we share a new investigation, interview, or update.

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